A common misconception is that everything a couple amassed during the marriage (marital assets) will be divided equally upon divorce. While each spouse is entitled to a share of these assets, property division in a New Jersey divorce is not strictly 50/50. As a result, you may end up with unequal shares of marital assets when the divorce is settled.
First, it is necessary to understand what constitutes marital assets. All property, assets and liabilities acquired throughout the marriage are considered part of the marital estate and will be split accordingly. They include the family home, vehicles, retirement accounts, businesses, shares and investments.
How equitable property division works
If the couple cannot agree on a divorce settlement or how to divide the marital assets and there is no pre-agreed legally binding agreement like a prenup that states each couple’s stake in the marital estate, the court will have to step in. A judge will determine how the marital assets will be divided.
Under equitable distribution, the court will factor in various aspects of the divorce and the economic circumstances of each spouse. Some of the things that will weigh in the property division phase of your divorce proceedings include:
- The duration of the marriage
- The income of each spouse and their debts or other financial obligations
- Each party’s direct or indirect contribution toward the acquisition and maintenance of marital assets
- The earning capacity of each spouse
- Their age and health
- Any other factors the court deems relevant
If a couple can’t agree on what’s equitable, the judge will assign each spouse their share of the marital estate once they are satisfied that the division is in the bests interests of equality and fairness.
How prepared are you?
The proper legal guidance during the divorce will go a long way in protecting your interests while ensuring you avoid making any mistakes that may work against you.